Like a bolt from the blue, here comes the... er... Go West! week twenty-two, here to bring you up to date info and hands-on impressions of the latest games out of Japan!
This week is a bit light in terms of releases, but nonetheless has some standouts that are definitely worth targeting. I'd like to believe this is Japan's way of apologizing for throwing one bajillion new games at me last week.
That number is 100% accurate by the way.
Follow me after the break as I try to make up for my failed joke at the beginning of this intro!
Releases for the week of July 1-7:
In the past five or so years I think I've been suffering from action game fatigue. Third person shooters, first person shooters, second-rate action games; you can't go a few feet in a game shop without seeing a game that looks exactly like another game.
Which is why Platinum Games will always hold a special place in my heart.
Made up of some of the most talented developers in the industry (formerly of the now defunct Clover), Platinum Games consistently puts out what I believe to be the most interesting, fun and exciting action games on the market. Third person shooter Vanquish married the high speed combat of Devil May Cry with the technically sound cover shooting of Gears of War. Bayonetta, in my opinion, is the platinum (hah) standard by which all third person action games should be judged. Madworld was a light at the end of the long dark tunnel that was the Nintendo Wii. In my opinion, Platinum Games hasn't made a truly bad game at this point.
Which is why I implore you all to check out their brand new third person brawler, Anarchy Reigns. Originally set to be released this month in western territories, Sega backed down and decided to send the game to die next year. Ironically, the current Japanese copy is not only region free, but completely localized. This is the exact same game that you'll be seeing on store shelves in 2013.
If you've downloaded the demo off the PSN, you'd know that this is a fast, frenetic game in which the multiplayer modes really shine. You'll be running around big arenas with teammates trying to crush your opponents, only to have a giant robot boss show up that forces both teams to try to cooperate. Sometimes interruptions will come in the form of exploding 18 wheelers, poisonous gas or all sorts of hazards that occur randomly. I've put in at least five hours on the demo alone.
I rarely do this, but I'd say this is definite import. Sega has sent this game to die (they're going through rough times), and as far as I can tell the purchase is worth it. Yes, it's pricey, but that's importing for you.
GungHo and Game Arts are playing this one smart. Rather than pricing their 2D Vita platformer Dokuro at a full Japanese price, it's being sold for under 3,000 Yen. This might seem like a no-brainer to some of you, but few Japanese publishers have figured out that you can't put games like this on the store shelf for full price anymore. It just doesn't work.
Dokuro is an adorable 2D platforming game with Tim Burton-esque chalk graphics that has you playing as a former henchman who decides to save the princess that he had originally been charged to guard. Through various sets of circumstances, you can change into the princely figure seen above and attack enemies as well as carry the princess for a set amount of time. Much like Acquire's Sumioni, you can also draw on the screen using in-game chalk, which allows you to solve puzzles and create new paths.
I've played the first three stages of the game and I'd say this is a definite purchase. There's hardly and text and what little is there is in English. I'm counting on XSEED Games or some other small English publisher to pick this up. It'd be a shame to miss out on this unique little game.
Toriko: Gourmet Survival 2
Despite being employed by a site that primarily writes about Japanese animation and manga, I have no idea what Toriko is actually about. I know that the main character hunts monsters so he can kill them and eat them, but outside of that I have no clue what the end goal is. I'm not particularly big on the art style, but a lot of my elementary school students are really big on the series.
Being a Bandai Namco anime game, I'm wouldn't expect too much from Gourmet Survival 2. Uh, I guess if you're a big fan of Toriko you should check this one out?
I honestly have no idea what to say about this.
Food is pretty delicious. Um, I really like beef stew?
Etrian Odyssey IV
I have never played an Etrian Odyssey game before IV.
First person dungeon crawlers scare me. They're typically super difficult games that punish poor planning with extreme prejudice, and I simply don't have the time to play through something like that. Etrian Odyssey IV is extremely inviting however because it includes a casual mode that you can activate at anytime during the game.
Why the hell don't more games allow for instant difficulty changing? It seems so obvious and yet it's so very rare. EOIV isn't particularly different from previous entries save for some superficial elements; monsters are now 3D and animated but still retain the delightfully charming art style seen in the previous games. I will say that the game looks great on the 3DS screen and the artwork is really clean and sharp. Dungeons draw you into the game a bit more as well due to the 3D screen creating a real sense of depth. Seeing a F.O.E. standing at the end of a long corridor is enough to send a shiver of fear down your spine.
Atlus hasn't yet announced this for a western release, but I wouldn't worry about that. They've localized every previous game in the series and it'd make no sense for them to skip out on what might be the most accessible entry in the series. Don't import this one.
Danball Senki Baku Burst
Publisher: Level 5
Online Price: 4,340 Yen ($53.90)
Danball Senki is sort of a big thing over here. Level 5 has become notorious for being able to produce child-friendly franchises that involve a collecting element. Some are more popular than others, but given how many new entries in the Danball series they've been pumping out, it must be making some decent money for them.
It's essentially an action RPG in which you control tiny little robots in small environments, battling with other characters in the game as you aim to be the best player in the world. Along the way, evil villains surface who seek to use the little robots to conquer the world or something. It's pretty typical Saturday morning cartoon story material, but hey, that's the audience they're going for.
This really isn't a franchise for anybody over the age of 13, quite frankly. It's too easy to be fun and the story is pure cheese about friendship and trying your best/never giving up on your dreams.
Unless you're really starved for Japanese games, I'd suggest staying away.
[And that's that for week twenty-two! Hope you folks enjoyed it, even if it was a bit shorter than normal. I have a blast talking about Japanese video games, so I want to try and get more discussion going here. Have any of you folks ever done any importing? What was the first Japanese game you ever imported? Sound off below and make sure to listen to the Red Sun Gamer Podcast, in which me and 3 other gentlemen in Japan talk about Japanese gaming life. See you all next week!]
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